Papers, Talks, and Other Writings
This page includes links to various papers and talks on topics ranging from performance practice and gender representation to attribution and the precise reading of the text in various musical repertories. Some of this material is fairly esoteric, but I hope that the “live” performances illustrating several of these talks will enliven the subject matter. I’ve listed the items in rough chronological order according to their topics. A few items have also appeared in print but are included here for reasons explained below.
What Is a Composer?
Problems of Attribution in Keyboard Music from the Circle of Philips and Sweelinck
Since high school, when I began exploring the volumes of Elizabethan keyboard music published in the Musica britannica series, I have been interested in the works of Byrd, Bull, and their contemporaries. This interest eventually led to a series of papers and reviews, including this lecture-recital, which I presented during the conference Networks of Keyboard Music c. 1600: Focus on Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck and Peter Philips, held at the Schulich School of Music, McGill University, Montréal (February 11–13, 2011). The links below lead to both the lecture and the performance portions of the presentation. I am grateful to Rachelle Taylor of McGill for producing the recording and making it available to me. A formal version of the lecture portion appears in the conference proceedings, Networks of Music and Culture (Ashgate, 2013). The illustrations and tables referred to in the talk are available here.
introduction – – – Toccata di Roma sexti toni, attributed to “Hieromino Ferrabosco” (from the “Messaus” manuscript)
talk – – – John Bull: Fantasia on a “fugue” by Sweelinck
talk – – – Fantazia 3a du Jan Bull (from the “Messaus” manuscript)
talk – – – Bull?: Pavan and Galliard “Symphony” (from the “Messaus” manuscript)
talk – – – Marenzio: Ecco l’aurora, anonymous keyboard intabulation (by Peter Philips?)
talk – – – Marenzio: Che fa oggi il mio sole, anonymous keyboard intabulation
talk – – – Marenzio: Deggio dunque partire, keyboard intabulation by Philips
The Early Baroque Toccata and the Advent of Tonality
This was the first of several papers that I have written on the analysis of early Baroque keyboard music, with particular attention to the question of whether, or to what degree, such compositions are modal, tonal, or some combination of the two. The paper came out in Italian, but although a number of writings on the same topic have been issued since then, the original English version may still be of some interest for some points that have not, I think, been made anywhere else.
Two Quadricentennial Talks on Froberger:
Between Frescobaldi and Froberger: From Virtuosity to Expression
Expression and Discrétion: Froberger, Bach, and Performance
During 2016 I had the opportunity to speak and perform at a number of gatherings that commemorated the four-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Johann Jacob Froberger. One talk, primarily musicological in nature, examines aspects of Froberger’s stylistic development in the light of recent manuscript discoveries and the attribution of several contested pieces to his teacher Frescobaldi. A second talk is more performance-oriented and considers the meaning of the term discretion. The latter term is attached to many compositions by Froberger (and to one by Bach), evidently with some significance for expression, tempo, or rhythm. Both talks are illustrated by numerous music examples, the second also by recordings of the pieces under discussion. I summarized both talks and performed further pieces by Frescobaldi and Froberger in a lecture-recital on this topic given in 2017 for the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music; the program for the latter and links to recordings are here.
Artistes in Rome: Froberger, Poussin, and the Modes of Music and Painting
I presented a version of this paper at the meeting of the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music at Houston in 2010. The paper takes a skeptical view of how well a painter such as Poussin and even a musician such as Froberger understood a theoretically complex term such as mode. I argue that the term, which had been important for musical humanists such as Zarlino, and which became important in later French writings on painting, was used essentially as a metaphor, and that together with other terms, such as subject and capriccio, we should not expect to find it being used very rigorously either in the visual arts or by practicing musicians. Click here for the paper.
Seventeenth-Century Keyboard Music in Dutch- and German-Speaking Europe
Around 1998 I was asked to contribute to a volume of essays on various repertories of late Renaissance and Baroque music. My chapter, on keyboard music in northern Europe, eventually appeared in a simplified version. The original included observations about style and stylistic development in the music of Hassler, Sweelinck, and others that I believe are worth publishing. I’ve therefore published my first version of the chapter here, albeit without the illustrations and additional examples that would have strengthened some of my points, and without updating the references.
Partes feminarum: Gender Representations in Baroque Music
This paper, presented at a conference at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville in 1997, remains, surprisingly, one of very few feminist discussions of the music of Barbara Strozzi, as opposed to biographical studies. Moreover, it seems to have been the first to consider Bach’s Coffee Cantata from the perspective of feminist theory or gender studies. Click here to read the paper. For a more recent discussion of the latter work that takes up some of the themes introduced here, see David Yearsley, “Hoopskirts, Coffee, and the Changing Prospects of the Bach Women,” Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture 17 (2013): 27–58.
A review of Peter Williams’s last book (Bach: A Musical Biography)
The English scholar and keyboard player Peter Williams was one of the greatest writers on Bach (and many other subjects), and I was honored to be asked to review the biography of Bach which he completed shortly before his death in 2016. Unfortunately the editor who requested my review sent me neither an edited copy nor proofs, and the review as published was shortened and otherwise altered without my agreement, nor was I given the opportunity to fix a couple of errors. A corrected and updated version of the complete review is included here.
Fugues and Fingering: Scales and Other Technical Devices in Bach’s Contrapuntal Works
This presentation offers various examples of keyboard pieces in which sophisticated contrapuntal devices are integrated with virtuoso techniques such as hand crossing, showing that Bach drew inspiration simultaneously from intellectual and technical types of musical thought. Scales seem to have had particular significance, for several possible reasons considered in the paper, which I presented at a meeting of the New England Chapter of the American Musicological Society at Providence College on Sept. 30, 2006. Click here for the paper. (This is a different paper, albeit with a similar title and topic, from “Fugues, Form, and Fingering: Sonata Style in Bach’s Preludes and Fugues,” which I contributed to Variations on the Canon: Essays in Musical Interpretation from Bach to Boulez in Honour of Charles Rosen on his Eightieth Birthday [University of Rochester Press, 2008], pp. 12–21; click here to order the volume.)
A Bach Manuscript Recovered:
Berlin, Bibliothek der Hochschule der Künste, Spitta Ms. 1491
Many manuscripts containing early copies of works by J. S. Bach and other composers disappeared during World War II from the European archives in which they were preserved. Some of these have emerged in subsequent years, to be returned to their rightful owners. In 1998 I had the good fortune to play a role in the retrieval of one such manuscript, especially important as the unique source for a collection of organ chorales attributed to Johann Christoph Bach, an older relative of Johann Sebastian. A short version of the paper was published that year in the newsletter of the American Bach Society; click here for the complete paper.
When Did the Clavichord Become C.P.E. Bach’s Favorite Instrument? An Inquiry into Expression, Style, and Medium in Eighteenth-Century Keyboard Music
This paper, written for a symposium on the clavichord that took place in 1999, was subsequently published in modified form in De clavicordio IV: Proceedings of the IV International Clavichord Symposium, Magnano, 8–11 September 1999 (Magnano: Musica Antica a Magnano, 2000), pp. 37–53. A French translation by Jean-Claude Teboul appears in Ostinato rigore 23 (2004): 139–57. Click here to read the paper in its original form. The recordings can be heard by clicking on the following links, then right-clicking on the word “download” and saving to your local computer. I made the recordings on the Swedish clavichord of circa 1770 at the National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota (more information here).
1. Sonata in E minor (W. deest), second movement (Andante)
2. Sonatina in G, W. 64/2 (H. 8), second movement (Largo)
3. Sonata in B minor, W. 65/13 (H. 32.5), first movement (Poco allegro)
4. Sonata in C, W. 90/3 (H. 524), first movement (Allegro di molto)
The Last Bach-Family Engraved Print: The Musical Supplement to C.P.E. Bach’s Versuch
This paper discusses the compositional and publication history of C.P.E. Bach’s Probestücke, a set of eighteen pieces, each in a different key, that accompanied his well-known Versuch (in English, the Essay on the True Manner of Playing Keyboard Instruments). I presented versions of this material at a number of public fora during 2003, including the Clavichord Symposium sponsored by the Boston Clavichord Society during theBoston Early Music Festival. A portion of it was published as part of my edition of the Probestücke in Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: The Complete Works, volume I/3 (Los Altos: Packard Humanities Institute, 2005). The present paper includes otherwise unavailable material on the continuing use of Bach’s Probestücke into the nineteenth century and their possible influence on Beethoven. Click here for the paper.
Critical Editions of C. P. E. Bach’s Concertos for Keyboard and Strings W. 4, 5, 6, and 24
During the 1980s I prepared editions of two concertos by C. P. E. Bach (W. 6 and 24) for publication in The Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Edition.The project was halted after issuing just four volumes, and my editions of those two concertos were never published. More recently, my revised versions of those editions were included, in partial form, in Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: The Collected Works (Los Altos: Packard Humanities Institute), vols. III/9.2 (2009) and III/9.8 (2010; Click here for further information or to order). But those volumes do not include my reconstructions of the earliest version of W. 6, nor of W. 4 and 5, which I subsequently edited, and the notation and many other details have been altered in ways that do not reflect the original texts. Click here for the complete version of each edition, incorporating the full musical text as well as audio files for early and late forms of each concerto, with comprehensive historical and textual commentary.